Back on Land

One Navy wife making a life back on land.


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My Deployment is Harder Than Your Deployment (And Other Nanny Nanny Boo Boo Nonsense)

One time a friend of mine sat in my living room tearful and sad and missing her sailor on their first deployment. He had been gone a few weeks. I sat with her. I nodded. I patted her hand and hugged her. I felt her pain.

I said, I understand. Josh has been gone for over two months now.”

And she looked up at me through tear-stained eyes and said, “But that’s nothing! You guys only do like three months, right? I could do three months with my hands tied behind my back!”

I didn’t quite feel her pain after that.

One thing that irks me to no end among military spouses is the argument over who has it the worst. My sailor’s job is harder. Our crew is gone longerMy soldier’s deployment is ten times worse than your sailor’s patrol will ever be. I’ve heard them all, and I think they are all EQUALLY stupid.

Does it really matter if your husband is gone longer? I get it. A year is much more single mom time than three months. It’s many more broken dishwashers or flat tires. It’s 365 lonely nights compared to my 90. Do you win?

Well, friend, my husband may be ONLY gone three months, but in those three, I never get to speak directly to him (no phones under the ocean, you see). I will never get to Skype or Facebook. I will never get to visit foreign ports with him. We hope for a mail drop or two and pray for email, but in our just three months, any communication at all is a privilege not a guarantee. Do I win?

On the other hand, at the end of three months I WILL have my sailor home again. Other military spouses say good-bye to husbands and wives headed for incredibly dangerous places. They’ve got the lonely nights, the broken stuff, AND significant time apart. PLUS, they are not just praying for an email or phone call; they’re praying that their soldier comes home AT ALL. Do they win?

No, they don’t, nor do you, and neither do I. Nobody wins because we’re supposed to be in this together. Supporting one another through the hard times (no matter how hard), the long nights (no matter how many), and the good times (no matter how few and far between). Nobody wins because it isn’t a competition.

You want to win? Sign up for a 5k.

You want to brag? Accomplish something.

You want to feel special? Do something, anything, that makes you feel special and go about your day! There’s no need to bring me down while you’re at it.

My deployment is hard no matter what you think, and I’m sure your’s sucks, too. Instead of competing to see who’s the biggest loser, let’s work together to see how we can make it all suck less. Because I do care. I do want to be here for you. I will hold your hand and hug you and give what I can.

What I won’t do is be put down in an argument I don’t believe in anyways.

 

 

 


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Tips for Surviving the First Day

The first day of a deployment is unarguably the worst.

Waking up before dawn to drive a full car to the base and returning home next to an empty seat.   That hug you wish would never end and that kiss that says so much and not enough all at the same time. Saying goodbye to half your heart and watching him walk away into the darkness. The quiet sound of sniffles from the back of the car from the kids who know what’s happening, and even the chatter of the youngest who doesn’t quite understand just yet. A long, lonely ride home staring into a long lonely day, the first of many.

These are the days that can crush you if you let them. The upside is that we know when it’s coming, and we can make plans to make the day a little brighter.

  1. I don’t like to clean … ever really but especially not when I’m sad and missing my sailor. I also don’t like to cook when I’m sad. I know; I know. My poor kids, right? Actually I just plan ahead. I make sure the laundry is caught up, the kitchen is reasonably done, and the rest of the house is picked up. We either eat DIY (everyone fends for themselves except for Alli), or we order in. There’s nothing quite like being day-one-depressed, but it’s much easier from the comfort of a clean couch scarfing on delivery.
  2. Acknowledge the sadness … it stinks to say good-bye. It’s hard not knowing when you will see your best friend again, when you will hug your dad again. It’s almost a tradition, I think, for me to say, “Well, that stinks!” as we drive away. We acknowledge the sadness, but we don’t let it take over.
  3. Recognize how amazing this crazy lifestyle is! I like to go see the submarine off. Scratch that! I love it, and I take the kids with me as often as possible. So many people have said, “I don’t  know how you stand him leaving so much!” I just think how fortunate I am, how fortunate my children are, to have a husband and father who we can be so proud of and to be able to be part of this crazy submarine life. Who gets to wave good-bye to a submarine? Seriously! Who gets to do that?!?
  4. Make it a special day! We’ve had early morning donuts or breakfast picnics. We’ve done pizza and a movie girls’ nights. We’ve done all kinds of silly things because yes, we miss him, but we also have to keep going and staying sad doesn’t really work for us.
  5. Use your feelings. I write lots and lots of letters and emails to my sailor on the day he leaves. I write lots and lots of blog posts in those sad days. I make goals. I make plans. I use my emotions to push me outside of my cozy little 9-to-5 husband box.
  6. Finally, do something good. There’s nothing quite like brightening someone else’s day to make your own tough day a little easier. Leave a gift for another spouse whose sailor just left. Buy a meal for a homeless person. Give your kid an extra hug. See a need; fill it. It will make you feel better.

No bones about it: the first day is tough. It’s sad. It’s lonely. It’s terrible. Let it be all those things, but remember it is so much more. We are so lucky to live this life and create these one-of-a-kind memories. Someday all these tough moments will be just that … mere moments in a lifetime of amazing.


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I Got Tagged By Aubrey

It’s rolling around Facebook.

Another one of those, “I got tagged so I MUST answer this questions and then share with/force 5 of my friends to play along” kind of status updates. It’s a modern-day chain letter only without the stamps, dollar bills, or ominous threats. I have seen it a few times and ignored them all equally until now …

tag

My sixteen-year-old daughter, my oldest, my first wants photographic evidence of things that make me feel beautiful …

Well, first let me say that I don’t actually feel traditionally beautiful. I’m smart. I’m fun. I’m a good friend. I’m pretty good at fixing things, and I do my best at the whole wife-and-mother thing, but beautiful? No, just not my thing. Oddly, I guess, that’s never bothered me. Some people confuse this for low self-esteem, but it’s not. Really. And it isn’t a bid for compliments or pats on the back. Trying to be beautiful is just not high on my list of priorities.

It probably doesn’t make sense. I know. And if I can’t make it make sense to the world in a blog post (words being kinda my thing), how do you explain it to a teenage girl? Yikes …

But here’s my attempt.

I am not traditionally beautiful, but I do know beauty. So here, my sweet girl, is the proof …

Josh & Me

I have a best friend and soul mate who saves his best and only silliness for me.

My kids

And together we created three of the most amazing creatures.

The ocean

I know my happy place. It ebbs and flows in my soul.

friends

I know true friendship, the kind that prevails great distances and too much time.

mypath

I am learning to follow my path. I can’t always see it clearly, but I feel I am walking in the right direction.

There it is. I have been tagged, and I have answered. What makes me feel beautiful isn’t a good hair day, a cute selfie, or a quirky grin. It is the life I am creating and the beautiful people with whom I share it.


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How Do I Miss My Sailor?

How do I miss my sailor? It’s different every day.

On the day he leaves, I miss him with gotta-hold-it-in, don’t-cry-in-front-of-the-kids-too-much tears. I miss him by distracting my kids from their sadness and creating a beautiful day for them to remember not as one of loss but instead as the adventure of the military family. In the evening though I miss him with a river of tears and empty arms in a lonely bed.

In the days before he returns … while I am excited and planning and primping, I am also preparing. Preparing for another extension and another. Preparing for a first night’s duty or simply too much work to leave the boat on the first bus or the second of the third. Sometimes missing him when he’s so close is even harder than when he’s far away.

On the good days … a personal best swim time, an attaboy from the Sensai, or a kind word from the teacher … I smile knowing he would be so proud, is so proud, even when he can’t be here to celebrate their accomplishments. My heart aches each time I hear, “Wish I could tell Dad about this …” and breaks when the only answer I can give is a falsely excited, “You should definitely tell him in an e-mail!”

On the bad days … with not-so-nice words from the teacher or coach, when the kids just won’t stop, or the dryer gave up again … my tears are half sadness, half anger. Why aren’t you here? I can’t do this alone! What would you have said? How would you have handled this? What should I do since there just isn’t going to be a we to do this for what seems like forever?

On quiet days … my hands feel empty, feel cold because I do not have his warm hand to hold in mine.

On the noisy days … I miss having him to release the noise in my head. I miss hearing the noise of his day. I miss sharing the burden of the noise quietly with him.

On rainy days … I miss cuddling with him.

On the sunny days, I hate that he is missing our sun.

How do I miss my sailor? Every day, every moment. Always. Until the day I see his handsome face walking back toward me again.

 


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Where Are You “From”?

A few months after my family moved to Washington, I was pulled over for speeding. The police officer asked all the normal questions. “Do you know why I stopped you?” (I actually have no clue …) “Do you realize how fast you were going?” (I’m guessing too fast?) “May I see your license and registration?” (If you must …)

And then, staring at my Washington registration and my Connecticut license, he asked a question that threw me completely off guard.

“So … where are you from?”

Excuse me? (I actually said that one out loud.)

“Ma’am, where are you FROM? What’s your home of record?”

I stumbled through the rest of the traffic stop. I mumbled something about military life and paying taxes in Connecticut and then drove away with a $125 ticket and a bit of a personal crisis. Where am I from?

I was born up north but was raised and graduated from high school down south. I moved away when I was 18, came back a year later, and left again for good at 21. Since then I have lived in Georgia, Florida, Connecticut, and now Washington. I lived in Arkansas the longest, but I haven’t spent more than a few days at a time there since I left in 1998. Am I still an Arkansan? A Floridian? No; our stint there lasted just months. A Georgian? Maybe. We lived there quite a while and loved every moment of it. A Connecticuter? (Nutmegger? Connecticutian? Who are you people?!? …) Could be. We lived there quite a while. I really felt like we had set down roots there. I do still miss Rotten Groton, but since we moved, I don’t really think of Connecticut as “home.” And if you want to get stupid really technical, I’ve been with Josh longer than I’ve lived at any of our duty stations, so am I really a New Yorker by marriage?

If you don’t have real roots anywhere, where are you really “from”?

One of my favorite parts of being a military spouse is experiencing life in many different places and home ports! From the sandy beaches of southeast Georgia to the cold, snowy winters in Connecticut and the rocky beauty of the Washington shoreline, I have loved them all. I feel so lucky to have lived so many places and having thrived (most of the time) in each one!

Do I have permanent roots anywhere? Well, no. I’m not an Arkansan anymore nor a Georgian. I’m a child of the world, a travelling heart, or perhaps more simply put, I’m a Proud Navy Wife. My roots are in my husband and my family. Wherever we wander is where I will call home. Wherever the orders designate, wherever the moving trucks drop off our boxes, wherever there is an FRG roster with MY NAME on it, I will call that home.

So where I am “from”? Where are my roots? I guess I can best be described as an Arka-geor-fla-con-ingtonian … at least until the Navy decides it send us on one more root-seeking adventure!


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A Back on Land Break

For a while I’ve had a hard time posting here. I’ve had to really reach for words to post, and I haven’t been at all happy with the outcome. Writer’s block has become my mantra, and it’s stressful. Even if not a single person reads my words, I feel compelled to write them … or attempt to at least … and I have felt like I was creating anything worthwhile for quite a long time.

So I’m taking a little break from this blog. I shifting my focus away from “navy wife life” for a while to focus on what’s really important to me … my family.

I’ve created a little side blog … just something fun, no pressure … to document all the summer magic I have planned for my family. It’s called One Magical Summer, and I’d love if you followed me over.

I hope to come back to Back on Land eventually. I will come back … but for now I’ll focus on documenting one more lovely summer with my family.

:)


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Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky

I received a free copy of this book in my Chat Pack in return for reviewing this book on various social media channels. The opinions are 100% my own.

I am a Kindle-girl. I converted several years ago because as much as I love a real book, they can be expensive when you read a lot (which I do), and they take up a ton of space. Yes, they are lovely. Yes, real books even smell better, but for me in my very transient world, Kindle-reading is the answer.

Last week, reading Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky, I almost changed my mind.

Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky

Sweet Salt Air is the story of two friends separated by time and a terrible secret and brought back together by the island they had spent so many summers on during their childhood. The main characters, Charlotte and Nicole, spent many summers together on an island off the coast of Maine called Quinnipeague where they are now reuniting after ten years apart to write a cookbook together based on the recipes and herbs and spices local to the island. I loved how the two women seemed to fit so easily together like pieces of a puzzle, each with strengths that complemented the other’s weaknesses, just the way true best friends are! I really loved the way the love story began, Charlotte looking for a story for the cookbook and the Leo, living in the midst of the garden she so desperately wanted to see, just wanting to be left alone. I thought the characters were very relate-able, and I found myself identifying even the smaller characters with people and memories from my own past. I also thought the pace of the book was excellent! I was never bored, but I was given time to allow big moments to sink in.

I will say this though. My favorite character in the whole book was … Quinnipeague. The author’s description of the town, the beach, the flowers, and the herbs, the sites, sounds, and smells of the entire island, made me wish I could jump on a plane and summer with Charlotte and Nicole. I don’t even eat seafood, and I was craving my own bowl of chowdah! Yes, by far, Quinni was the best part of this book! I found myself touching the pages, wishing I could dive right into them and land on the sand near the ocean. Perfection. I actually caught myself touching the pages lovingly, so enamored by the words on them. I thought I’d be converting back. to books.

A few days later I read another book, another “real” book, and I was so excited to dive into those smooth pages as well. I was disappointed by the experience. It was a very good book, but it wasn’t Sweet Salt Air. I didn’t crave to be in the moment with the characters. It could just have easily been electronic pages on my Kindle. It wasn’t the touch of paper pages that enamored me of Sweet Salt Air; it was the well-crafted story and descriptions that peaked all my senses. It was a wonderful storyline and the perfect ending. It was the ability of the author to really make me believe I could smell the Sweet Salt Air.

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